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How Important is a CIP?

"There are members who have posted that LOC CIP status and/or a prepub review stimulated library sales across the nation. These were of course non-fiction books. The conventional wisdom is that libraries often use LOC CIP listings as a menu from which to order books in certain categories. Are you suggesting that the conventional wisdom is wrong?"

Not entirely, but I am suggesting that there is a tendency to overrate just how important certain attributes are in book sales. A mention on Oprah will far outstrip CIP or positive book reviews in most cases. The library market does find books with CIP or other downloadable cataloging to be attractive, but in most cases if a library needs a book about a certain topic, they can buy the book and obtain cataloging afterwards. That doesn't mean they don't prefer a book with CIP, just that it's not a be-all and end-all. Nothing is.

The Left Behind books appear to me to not have received CIP (I'm inferring that from where their LCCNs fall in the chronology), but they've sold very well and are in most public libraries. I don't know about their reviews since I don't usually read the fiction reviews, but I doubt if they've been uniformly laudatory, at least in the library-specific review journals. There are other non-CIP, non-pre-pub reviewed books that have become best-sellers, too. And in any case, John specifically mentions library sales in his posting while the original discussion was just about sales.

Am I mistaken in thinking that library sales are just a small part of potential sales for publishers? CIP and pre-pub reviews definitely help in library sales, but as for sales through Barnes & Noble, the corner bookshop, or for that matter, WalMart, I don't think they're all that crucial.

Mike Tribby
Senior Cataloger
Quality Books Inc.
The Best of America's Independent Presses

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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